Sunday, January 20, 2013

Ripper Street: Series Premiere


Last night was the series premiere of BBC's Ripper Street and as with all BBC shows I was thoroughly impressed.  As far as series premiere's go this had everything, murder, sex and really really supreme acting.  Of course, I, living in America, had to watch the show on BBC America and you can't help but feel a bit cheated by the editing and commercial interruptions.  But we will get to my gripe about BBC America after I rant about the high quality of Ripper Street.

Ripper Street follows the detectives of East London known as H Division shortly after the infamous Jack the Ripper murders.  The show opens with a Jack the Ripper tour.  High class Londoners cower in fear and disgust behind a barker who brings them to all the sites where Ripper bodies were found.  It's all fun and games until you stumble upon a body.  Isn't that always the way it goes?  And, oh my, it would appear that she's been ripped, throat slit, eyes hatched and gashes all about her face.  Cue the frantic shouts of murder.

From there, the show goes on to follow Detective Inspector Edmund Reid played superbly by Matthew MacFadyen and his partner Detective Sergent Bennet Drake played by Jerome Flynn of Game of Thrones fame.  They enlist the help of American ex-field surgeon Captain Homer Jackson played by Adam Rothenberg who is a great foil to the two stuffy detectives.  Of course as I sit watching the show I can do nothing but panic about Jerome Flynn's leading role.  Does that mean curtains for the wise cracking Bronn on Game of Thrones?!  Whoever will protect Tyrion Lannister!?  Oh March you cannot come fast enough!

But I digress.  The plot follows the quest of these three men to prove whether or not Jack the Ripper committed this murder.  They are under intense public pressure since, of course, they never caught the man who tore through East London's whores like some sort of demon breeze.  On one hand the press hounds them, falsifying facts in the case to make it seem like Jack is back, on the other hand DI Reid is being hounded by his superiors, who secretly pray that it is Jack's doing so they could have the chance redeem themselves.  I will not go too deeply into the plot of the show as I would like to give people time to watch it.

Overall I found the show beautifully filmed, well written and as with all BBC productions brilliantly acted.  We have only been given a glimpse at each character, learning bits and pieces, but you can see all these men have been through in their eyes.  So far we have seen Captain Jackson as a bit of a whore monger, living in a whorehouse.  He seems to be in cahoots with Madame of the house, they both hint at hiding from something in their past and I can't wait to learn what that is.  Then there is MacFadyen who gives a wonderfully refined performance.  I have yet to be disappointed by a MacFadyen character, whether or not the film he is in is any good.  His character holds the weight of the world on his shoulders, but does so with a cool head and a steady hand.  We learn in the episode that he has a horrific looking burn on his shoulder which gives him trouble, making even putting a shirt on difficult.  How did he receive this?  I'm sure we will soon find out.  Then we have my dear Bronn, Jerome Flynn.  Flynn's character is a scrapper and a fierce fighter.  Or at least that's how he seems.  As we delve deeper into his character, we find a gentler man with high moral standards.

The only drawback to the show is BBC America.  It would have been better suited for HBO or any other non-cable channel.  Ripper Street includes graphic violence, nudity and sexual situations.  I feel like I'm missing out on the full vision of the show by watching this heavily edited version.  Not to mention the ever oddly placed commercial breaks.  Listen BBC America, I appreciate what you do, trust me I do, but sometimes it seems like you don't even try.  I've seen you cut off the end of sentences to begin commercial breaks.  I know you need commercials, your not government funded here, but Jesus!  While I'm ranting, the BBC has more to offer than Top Gear and anything involving Chef Gordon Ramsey.  If I see one more 6 hour stretch of Kitchen Nightmares I am going to scream.  And, I know you're BBC America but you don't need to show American TV shows.  We get those here.  And yes Patrick Stewart is a God who happens to be English and Star Trek Next Generation is awesome, but why do you constantly air it???  Ok, I'm biased and I wish you would only air Doctor Who, but I wouldn't mind more Graham Norton or Torchwood or Copper or bring other BBC shows over.  I know it's off season, but I know for absolute sure that Chef Gordon Ramsey is not the only entertainer Britain has to offer.

Ok back on track.  Ripper Street is a show worth watching, if not for the great cinematography and writing, but too see how the characters develop over the season.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!